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“Experts” discounted stories of incest… (excerpts from Ragdoll Redeemed)

The Way We Never WereSANDWICHED BETWEEN TELEVISION shows touting moral values, such as Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best, were coffee tables acceptably littered with girly magazines like Playboy Magazine. So it seems odd to me that the 1950s is still considered to epitomize the generation of the ideal family, when just beneath the “happy family” façade was often an atmosphere of violence, terror, and alcoholism. We’ll never now to what extent this occurred, since women who reported it in those days were thought to merely be having sexual fantasies. “Experts” discounted stories of incest, giving it a one-in-a-million probability. Battered women were often thought to have provoked their husband into abusing them.

I don’t recall the exact sequence of events, or which man came first, but for a while I allowed myself to be passed around the neighborhood like a sexual ragdoll in exchange for cookies and candy.

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Ragdoll Redeemed: Reverence and Milk Bottles

il_170x135.360144279_lsi2Now five, almost six years old, with long, blond, matted hair, feet without shoes, sporting tar and dirt like a widely dispersed birthmark, I recessed further into being a shy, anxious child. My anxiety was elevated by the loudness that reverberated so often within the walls of my dingy home.

Veronica and Howard’s hate-filled relationship tormented all of us for two more years. I tried to close my ears to the words that would never be uttered  in churches or in other children’s homes.

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House with No Paint

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One gloomy northern California day, after six heavenly months of peace, my foster parents packed me in their car and headed back to the house with no paint. Nothing my kind new dad or my wonderful new mom said to me could cheer me during the long drive south. Our mutual sadness enveloped the inside of the car like a black fog, becoming denser with each passing mile. Soon no one was even attempting to speak cheery, meaningless words of comfort.

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House with No Paint

 Dawn with Little Red HatEven my sweet eight-year-old brother couldn’t talk me out of the corner where I scrunched up against the wall, hiding, my eyes tightly shut. Holding out his hand to me, Ronnie said, “Come  on, Dawnie, these are nice people and they are going to take you for a ride in their big car.”

I shook my head  from side to side, too scared to talk, and  my brother begged me, “Please Dawnie, just come say hi to them. They have a baby doll for you in the car and some candy. I saw it. Everything will be okay. Just come out, pleeeease.”

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Authoritarian Parenting Style

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As previously stated, I’m posting weekly excerpts from my book, Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe, because I wanted a break from the pressure of writing a blog topic. At the same time, I’m not quite ready to completely shut down my blog site.  Given this self-imposed dilemma, I’m endeavoring to post educational information that somewhat coincides with my book excerpts.

I can totally relate to the symptoms stated in the following article on Authoritarian Parenting Style.

 

The “Authoritarian Parenting Style” is an extremely strict form of parenting that expects a child to adhere to rules and regulations set out by the parents with little or no input or communication from the child.

Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind in her studies based on the dimensions of “Parental Responsiveness” and “Parental Demandingness” conclude that: The authoritarian parenting style is a harsh, rigid emotional climate that is low in parental responsiveness (the nurturing aspect of the child) and high in parental demandingness (control over the child).

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Ragdoll Redeemed: Reverence and Milk Bottles

Christmas w HowardHOWARD, MY ADOPTIVE father, frequently locked me in my brothers’ small bedroom with its colorful  floors. One small window became my salvation: I would imagine myself flying out of it to perch upon the fluttering leaves I could see from my assigned square on the floor. It was hard for my four-year-old arms and legs to remain still for so many hours. When he was angry, Howard would frequently grab me by one arm and yank me high up in the air. On one occasion he dislocated my arm from my shoulder before slamming me down on the orange and blue linoleum. For years I had recurring nightmares in which I was frantically running from pieces of orange and blue squares.

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Ragdoll Redeemed: House with no Paint

image_12 (4)One day while napping I overheard  ten-year-old Ronnie speaking in soothing tones to our four-year-old brother Russell. As often happens with the oldest child, Ronnie had become responsible for protecting Russell and me from the screaming  matches. The fights between Howard and my mother were escalating in tone and regularity.

I was pretty sure the reason that I was not welcomed into any of the neighbor’s homes was because the whole neighborhood could hear the verbal battles in our house. That and the sap on my feet, the lice in my hair, and the dirt from the dumpsters. In spite of any prayers and wishes from Grandmother and me, the hollering became more and more intense.

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Ragdoll Redeemed: House with No Paint

holy water 5This gypsy lifestyle of roaming the woods and the neighborhood was a daily ritual from the time I was barely four years old. From sun-up until well past dark, I was on my own in my wanderings. Sometimes I would seek shelter in the hot afternoons by sneaking into an abandoned barrack. Many had not yet been converted to homes, and it was easy to break into broken doors or holes punched in the walls by vandals. But most of my comfort came from the exhilaration I felt when supported  in the loving arms of my trees. No one, except my brother, ever questioned my whereabouts or went looking for me. Usually he didn’t come, either, because we both knew the farther I stayed away from the house with no paint, the safer I would be.

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Ragdoll Redeemed: The House with No Paint

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Howard also inherited  my grandmother. Like a barnacle, Elizabeth was permanently attached to her daughter’s life, embedded  in her very existence. Not long after the marriage, what quiet had existed in the house was gone, and it was a condition that lasted for years. Too little to understand the sheer volume that bellowed from our dingy house, I hung my head in shame when the children playing outside gawked at the noise. The neighbors simply closed their doors or turned their heads from the earsplitting arguing.